Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Yesterday was a quirky cough of fate, with both of us buried beneath our respective mountains of work and hardly a free moment to celebrate. Yet there we were, festooned with a myriad of calendar-directed mirth-moments we to which we had to attend, even if just in passing. It was a test of blending productivity with the perpetual party. Did we pass? Well, you’ll notice there is no entry for National Cake & Cunnilingus Day, so you be the judge. At least we did get around to these:

National Ex-Spouse Day

Jodie, who is the one among us who has an ex-spouse, was relieved to learn that yesterday’s celebration had nothing to do with reaching to one’s ex, or spending some quality time with one’s ex. No, this day is about forgiveness and moving on, something Jodie took care of years ago. The details of their final curtain were not as unpleasant as some, probably more unpleasant than many, but it also took place over two decades ago. The two of them – along with both their new spouses – did a fine job raising our kid to be a quality human. That water is long gone under the bridge.

This day was launched by a Reverend Ronald Coleman of Kansas City, MO (Super Bowl champs!). In 1987 he thought it might be a fun way to tone down some of the bitterness that comes packaged with divorce. I think an arbitrary day on the calendar is an unlikely prompt to an amicable future, but it’s a valiant effort. Really, unless one person in the relationship is still deeply in love there should be no need for a stain of resentment and bitterness. Moving forward, even into the vast unknown, is a better route.

But who am I to say? For that matter, who is Reverend Ronald Coleman to say? I haven’t been through a divorce, and I’d wager neither has he. I’ve been right there on the sidelines though – for Jodie’s, for my parents’, and a few friends’ divorces. Each story is different and there is no cure-all answer to getting past it. But to a fault, every one of those situations does get better when the resentment and anger is released. For Jodie this day came naturally and simply.

National Gardening Day

Yesterday would have been a great day for us to begin our gardening for the year. We could have taken advantage of the fact that we are home on lock-down to lay out our rows of veggies just so, and to eagerly plan out our autumn salad game with all the goodies we’ll have coming. Just a few problems with that. First, we don’t garden. We could, but we don’t really have the space. In the space where a garden used to be, at the back of our property, there is now just damaged soil that needs a full-on earth transplant.

Second, we had lots of work and zero free time yesterday. Okay, that’s weak, but it’s our third excuse that will serve as our best one: there is still a pile of snow 3-4 feet high in our yard. It is 100% still winter in this corner of the tundra, and we even woke up with more snow on the ground today. This may be National Gardening Day for most of the civilized world north of the equator, but for us it’s just another winter day.

So we spent some time yesterday evening planning what might get dumped into the dirt around our home this year. We discussed a possible herb garden, since we’re blowing money on fresh herbs quite often at the grocery store, only to use them once before they turn soggy and spent. Tulip bulbs are definitely on the menu this year, as we’d like to see some spontaneous colour zip up from the dirt next spring. We also felt a few more flowers in the front of our house might brighten things up a bit.

Sadly, this National Gardening Day wasn’t meant to be for us. Fortunately, Naked Gardening Day is less than a month away. Hopefully it will be spring by then. And hopefully our neighbours have REALLY open minds, or REALLY closed curtains.

National Pecan Day / National Pecan Month

Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, Brazil nuts and pecans – all not technically nuts, but for the purposes of this project they damn well are. The pecan we’re all fond of munching upon is technically a seed for the pecan tree. The tree itself is a hickory, and it grows wildly in the southern US and northern Mexico. Even the name comes from an Algonquin word that casually referred to pecans, walnuts and hickory nuts. Even the correct pronunciation is up for debate: Jodie claims it’s pe-KAHN, as a PEE-can is something you pee in. Turns out my wife pees in cans. The magic never dies as long as you keep learning new things about one another, I suppose.

Pecans have to travel a precarious road to get to our pralines ‘n cream ice cream buckets. The trees are subject to a number of diseases, bacteria and fungi. There’s Pecan Scab, which has cost pecan farmers millions over the years. There’s hickory shuckworm, which can devastate crops before hanging up their worm-cleats and turning into a moth. There’s canker disease which is dead tissue that spreads like a bad rash. But once you get those sweet seeds out, you’ve got a tasty little food. Pecans are also a good source of iron and B vitamins.

We contemplated getting some pecan pie for this day, but I’m glad we didn’t. Our dessert quotient is getting out of control in this project, and we needed a day off. Yesterday I made this impressively quick and remarkably tasty little dish, a pecan-and-panko crusted salmon. I call it Pecanko Salmon, a name Jodie does not care for. But I’m the chef, I get to come up with dish names.

It was fantastic. We should cook with these little hickory seeds more often.

National Reach As High As You Can Day

Reach for your dreams! Do you have any idea how many of these celebrations have that as their intent? Seriously, I think we’ve run through five or six already this year. No origin story, no inspirational tale of someone who shattered expectations and achieved a great dream, then came up with this holiday. No, just a mysterious blip on the calendar like a motivational poster that no one can remember who had tacked onto the wall in the boardroom.

So let’s look at some of our accomplishments from yesterday, beyond the above pic I took reaching as high as I could without getting out of my chair. Jodie handed in her final assignment for the year, meaning she is 1/3 through her masters degree. I played a part in helping to convey dozens of emails out to panicking landlords and tenants, as well as consumers who were being gouged and mistreated. We also clocked the 106th day of this project’s 366, so that was something quite grand.

We are beyond childhood dreams of rock stardom or Solid Gold dancer fame. Jodie’s greatest professional aspiration is to continue to reach the hearts of numerous kids, especially with the new-found skills her masters will grant her. Me, I’ve learned over the last four weeks that all I need to be happy is a job situation that will allow me to work from home. Honestly, I have never enjoyed the concept of employment more than these last few weeks. Write an email, hug a dog. Update a spreadsheet, go check the mail. Drink my coffee from my own mug, fresh from the coffee maker. And I’ve already expounded upon the bathroom benefits in previous articles. But those benefits are supreme.

How much higher can we reach? Our hopes of this project becoming a global sensation (accompanied by that ever-elusive Oprah-money) is no longer on the radar. We simply want to get through the next 260 days with smiles and joy. And maybe, just maybe, if they reboot Solid Gold I can snag at least an audition. Maybe?

National Look Up At The Sky Day

This day is meant to make us slow down and appreciate the little things in life. Wait. Fucking seriously? We’ve had at least 10 of these so far this year. How much reaching for our goals and appreciating the little things can we do? Lots – the answer is lots. I’ll take a breath here…

As you can see, we looked up at the sky yesterday. It was grey and overcast for the entire day, with a splurt of rain every so often. The sky was not the thing to appreciate yesterday. I was hoping this day was for astronomical purposes, like maybe something special was slated to happen up there. Not that we’d have seen it, of course. Maybe this should be a day to learn about clouds. Or to research the history of space travel – after all, April 12 is the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first atmosphere-clearing flight; why not bump this day back a couple notches on the calendar and make use of it?

Today could be a day for looking up at the sky through our windows and noticing how dirty our windows are. A window-cleaning celebration! No? Yesterday was the 155th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. Maybe that’s a reason for us all to look up at the sky and contemplate… the evils of slavery?  I’m just trying to figure out some legitimate reason for this day. Take your pick.

We just kept it literal yesterday. Through all this lock-down business we have absolutely taken time to appreciate the little things. We are insanely fortunate; things are so much worse for so many people right now. And if looking up at the sky means being grateful for our dogs, for our toilet paper stash, for the rollicking tones of the Ventures playing through our speakers, then consider the sky looked at and seen.

International Moment of Laughter Day

I’m going to sound a bit repetitive here, but this is not the first day of this year in which we’ve had a celebration reminding us of the importance of laughter. Fortunately, this comes as second-nature to us. We live for comedy. And to be absolutely clear, this day is intended for each of us to take a moment out of our day to laugh. Just like we did on Let’s Laugh Day on March 19. Or on Belly Laugh Day on January 24.

Yesterday Jodie recorded some lesson videos for her students, and did her best to inject a few laughs. I know a few of my coworkers elicited a chuckle when I emailed everyone the Easter egg hunt link so they could try to remember whose office had a bowl of Lindor chocolates and whose had a Big Lebowski poster (that one is mine). We also managed to cultivate a few laughs of our own: I watched some Parks & Recreation over my lunch, and at night we both settled into yet another episode of that ridiculous Tiger King freak show everyone is crowing about.

Taking a moment to make sure we laugh is an unnecessary exercise for us. Laughter is in our DNA, and humor is our daily medication to keep back the madness of the planet. And right now, as the planet is steeped in a form of madness with which we are not familiar, it’s more important than ever. Luckily for us, when it comes to laughing, we’re pretty damn good at it.

National Dolphin Day

Why do we love dolphins so damn much? Is it because we’ve been told they are super-intelligent? Is it because they make those cute little clicking noises? Maybe because the football team named after them often has the best chance in the division of beating the loathesome New England Patriots? Maybe it’s the smiles – I’m going with the smiles. Dolphins are chill-looking creatures who always look like they’re having just the best goddamn day and you should totally get on board.

I have a weirdly long history with dolphins. I grew up with four of them cohabitating in a tank at our local shopping mall. Howard, Maria, Gary and Mavis entertained the masses in a questionably ethical daily performance, and I would always stop to check them out. Then while strolling through the elaborate zoo at the Mirage in Las Vegas a dolphin batted a beach ball at me from his (or possibly her) tank. I tossed it back and a short game of catch ensued. That dolphin had some skills. That team in Miami could have used him last year.

So what can we learn about our cheerful sea-mammal friends? The males mate with multiple females every year, but females only mate every two to three years. How does that math work? Ask the dolphins. They share common ancestry with land-dwelling ungulates, like giraffes, camels and buffalo. Anatomically the males have their organs tucked inside, so they’re doing better than we are. The one thing they are missing is a sense of smell. They don’t need it.

They are incredibly social animals, and ultimately that may be why we love them so much. They hang out in groups, but they’ll also chill with whales, fish and humans. We all wish we could be more social right now. From where we’re sitting, the dolphins have it made. Happy day, smiling little dudes.

Will we be burdened by an excess of work today? Maybe, but we’ll also have this to contend with:

  • National Glazed Spiral Ham Day. We had plenty of leftovers from our salmon yesterday. They’ll have to wait – it’s Ham(mer) Time.
  • National Rubber Eraser Day. Wow. A wilder celebration this year we may not see.
  • National Take A Wild Guess Day. I’m really good at this. Not at guessing accurately, just at guessing.
  • Universal Day of Culture. We had plans to head out and soak up some art and culture today. Instead we’ll do it from home.
  • World Art Day. We’ll see if we can keep this separate from the previous one somehow.
  • National That Sucks Day. Well that might be a downer.